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Letters: Radicalised by the assault on Gaza

These letters appear in the 21st July issue of The Independent

As bad as events in Gaza are, more worrying are events in Iraq, where Isis terrorists have started a campaign of ethnic cleansing (editorial, 21 July) in what’s left of the state of Iraq after British and US forces bombed the place into the dark ages, bringing “democracy” to the region in 2003.

Are politicians so stupid that they believe it is some imam in a British mosque that is radicalising Muslim youngsters to join the fight, rather than the politicians’ indifference to the children of Gaza. 

I suppose some would describe me as a white member of the British middle class, yet even my children and I have been radicalised by recent events in Gaza, just as I would have been, had Britain started to bomb border towns in the Republic of Ireland in response to IRA atrocities, on the basis of intelligence reports that IRA operatives were living in these towns.

The apparently “civilised” world would not have accepted this form of collective punishment on mostly white Irish Catholics, yet in Gaza its seen as Israel defending itself.

Anyone with even a little knowledge should know by now that the first step to a prosperous peaceful world and Middle East is not just a ceasefire in Gaza; it is justice for the Palestinians. Benjamin Netanyahu should be careful of what he wishes for: he may end up with Isis if Palestinians become disillusioned with Hamas, their democratically elected representatives.

Richard Lanigan, Thames Ditton,  Surrey


Instead of giving us the familiar Israeli homilies  about terrorism and human shields in the Gaza conflict, the Israeli ambassador might have used the space you gave him (16 July) to elucidate for us the recent remarks of his Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a press conference on 11 July,  according to The Times of Israel, he said: “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” – that is, the West Bank. 

This has been the consensus for many years of Israel’s governing elite. They will never allow a Palestinian state which denies it this control. They will allow bantustans, but only to prevent a Palestinian numerical majority in Israel.  Such a deal would be unacceptable to any Palestinian leader, from Hamas to Abbas. Israel, furthermore, has no intention of allowing a two-state solution, which Obama has called for.

Because of this unacknowledged but fundamental spoiler, “the Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history,” wrote Henry Siegman, formerly head of the American Jewish Congress. He quotes Moshe Dayan; “The question is not ‘What is the solution?’ but ‘How do we live without a solution?’ ”

In this context Israel is asking for the impossible – for Palestine’s acquiescence in its dismemberment.

James Fox, London W10


Jacob Amir (Letters, 12 July) is correct in asserting that the Zionist leadership accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947, which provided for both a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine. He omits to say, however, that they did so only formally, that is, quite cynically, as a platform for creating the more homogenous Jewish state they desired.

Those at the UN who drafted the Partition Plan knew that it was only a paper solution. A Jewish state in any meaningful sense of the term could not be established in an area where Jews were barely 50 per cent of the population. In other words, ethnic cleansing was necessary.

Dr Steve Cox, York


As someone who 50 years ago worked as a volunteer in an Israeli kibbutz, it pains me to condemn Israel now for its grotesquely disproportionate response to the Hamas rocket attacks. Why, though, are western governments not as outraged by the current abuses in Gaza as the Secretary General of the United Nations?

We know that US politicians’ careers would be at risk from the Zionist lobby were they to advocate sanctions against Israel, and no doubt in the UK it is also felt that criticism of Israel might be associated with antisemitism, with disastrous political fall-out.

Surely there must come a point, however, when purely domestic political considerations are outweighed by the need to speak truth to power, and sanction a country, even an erstwhile ally, whose policies are so inimical to those we claim to espouse?

Christopher Martin, Bristol


Every day we hear about the troubles in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. What I never hear anything about is the achievements of Tony Blair in his role as Middle East envoy

Sarah Pegg, Seaford, East Sussex


Great video, but what about the singing?

Intrigued by Paul Lester’s article “Move over, Rihanna: we’re about the music” (19 July) I checked out random examples of the first three artists mentioned.

One FKA twigs video had typical standard industry choreography of attractive dancers and immensely over-processed, auto-tuned singing.

If most recordings of this alleged “new generation of female R&B singers” are stripped bare of the barrage of artificial additives –  sound effects, echo, digital processing – there is very little substance left to remember.

To pass any test of time, as singers such as Big Mama Thornton, Janis Joplin, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse have demonstrated, a great voice is the essential ingredient. Everything else is secondary.

Without an instantly recognisable superior vocal quality, all the industry can do is package an act’s products with gimmicks ranging from sex goddess to modest innocence icon, in the hope of capturing a temporary following in a chosen target audience.

Rol Grimm, London NW6


Patients who slip through the NHS net

Stan Brock’s mission to provide healthcare to some of the estimated 44 million Americans living without it is admirable, but let’s not forget that in the UK there’s also a large number of people going without even basic medical care (report, 14 July).

Ninety per cent of patients at the clinic we run for excluded people in east London have not had access to a doctor despite living here for many years. Extremely vulnerable people, such as undocumented migrants and trafficked and destitute people, are routinely denied healthcare in the UK or are simply too afraid to access it, including heavily pregnant women.

And with the Government tightening up its healthcare checks and charges we expect to see many, many more desperate people come through our doors.

Nick Harvey, Doctors of the World UK, London E14


Assisted dying and ‘doctors who kill’

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, while saying he has changed his mind on assisted dying, does not mention the Hippocratic Oath, let alone its relevance to changes in the law.

Once the names of doctors who have issued patients with lethal drugs reach the public domain (advertised? leaked? rumoured?) confidence will erode, patients with multiple disabilities like me will run for cover under palliative care, “doctors who kill” will terminate their careers, and the NHS will wither.

The Rev Richard James, Harrogate, North Yorkshire


Orthodox liturgy  at Canterbury

Your notice of the death of Metropolitan Volodymyr (7 July) failed to mention that in the early 1980s he was a member of the International Dialogue with the Anglicans. In 1982 he celebrated the Orthodox Divine Liturgy at the high altar in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Head Verger took the precaution of placing a large Bible on St Augustine’s Chair to ensure that no one but the Archbishop of Canterbury might sit there.

Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, London N7


Don’t forget to set the bar higher

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Schools, is quoted as asking local authorities: “Are you stepping up to the plate or have you thrown in the towel?”

Would he like schools to teach such mixed-metaphor madness to pupils? Can’t they just concentrate on leaving no stone unturned and punching above their weight?

Gyles Cooper, London N10


Reborn as a  better person?

If Kartar Uppal is right that humans are being continually reborn (letter, 19 July), wouldn’t you think there would be an improvement in human behaviour over the millennia, as more of us progress along the road to nirvana?

Carol Wilcox, Christchurch, Dorset